Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#119 Western Kentucky vs.
#120 Indiana
Saturday, September 17, 2022 at 12:00pm EDT
Written by Eric P.

The Indiana Hoosiers play host to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Saturday afternoon from Memorial Stadium in an intriguing non-conference showdown. Both teams come into this one undefeated, though Indiana definitely has the more impressive win. These two also met only a year ago, with the Hoosiers grabbing the two-point win on the road. This one is expected to be close and even though the Hilltoppers haven't been able to grab the win in the last four meetings dating back to 2008, this one is expected to be an exciting non-conference meeting.

Hilltoppers Aim For Revenge

Western Kentucky is coming off of one of its most successful seasons in recent memory and even despite the losses on both sides of the ball, they haven't missed a beat this season. The opener against Austin Peay saw them grab a double-digit win, though it wasn't easy while heading out to Hawaii last weekend saw a 32-point win on that front. There's no doubt that the Hilltoppers also haven't forgotten about how close they came to taking down the Hoosiers last season. That in itself could be enough to help them spring the upset on the road. This group has the experience and the coaching to make things interesting and there's no doubt that they won't be daunted coming into this one.

It doesn't hurt that the Hilltoppers also don't have any injuries to worry about on either side of the ball. Without anyone out or expected to miss Saturday's game, depth won't be an issue and is likely to actually be an advantage in this one.

Last year, Western Kentucky had one of the nation's best offenses, on the backs of one of the best quarterbacks. Even with some of the departures on that side of the ball, this team has continued to put up impressive numbers. Austin Reed, who was recently added to the Davey O'Brien Award Watch List, hasn't missed a beat tossing the ball. Through two games, he has over 550 passing yards and seven touchdowns. The key in this one will be developing some consistency on the ground. If the Hilltoppers can win the possession battle, they have a good shot to spring the upset in this one.

Western Kentucky's defense has turned a corner this season as well. They've been able to get it done mainly through forcing turnovers, where they rank tops in the nation. Generating extra possessions for an impressive offense has suited them well. Much like the case will be on the offensive end for this group, controlling the game in the trenches will be key. Indiana will aim to exert their dominance on the ground early but if the Hilltoppers can stifle them, it could alter the balance of the game.

Hoosiers Starting Off Strong

Indiana has been one of the more interesting stories over the last few seasons and after competing near the top of the Big Ten in 2020, last season saw a significant drop off for this group. Starting this season 2-0, this group already seems like they have more confidence brewing than last year's group. An opening night win against Illinois was crucial to getting off to a quick start against a familiar foe, while last week saw some troubles early against Idaho, but a strong second half to close it out. Last season's win over Western Kentucky was this group's best win of the season and they aim to replicate that success in this one. Memorial Stadium has been good to them over the last few seasons and the hope is that carries over into Saturday's non-conference showdown.

The growing length of the injury report continues to be a growing concern for this team though. Matthew Bedford (knee), a bedrock on the offensive line, has already been ruled out for the season. On top of that are four players questionable for the weekend. The receiving core continues to thin, while James Head Jr. (undisclosed) is questionable to go and could be missed on the defensive line.

Indiana's offense has turned things around this season and while there is still quite a ways to go, they at least have balance. They rank 54th nationally in passing yards per game and though they are only 89th in rushing yards per game, the second half of last week saw an increased emphasis on that front. Balance is key in this one and considering they'll be facing off against a top offense in its own right, the Hoosiers will need to be sharp. Connor Bazelak has been a nice addition and while the big plays have been missing, the continuity of the offense should see growing success.

On the defensive side, the biggest concern is the ground game. While the Hilltoppers primarily operate through the air, Indiana's 104th-ranked rushing defense might lead to some other ideas and avenues for success. Indiana's inability to also force turnovers has led to some questions as well. This group allowed over 30 points in the meeting between the two last season and they'll need to rely on their experience to slow down Western Kentucky this go-around.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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The Hilltoppers made things interesting last season and with another experienced quarterback at the helm, this group will make things interesting on the road in this one. Indiana's offense isn't explosive enough to keep up with Western Kentucky and last week's struggles against Idaho show how things might go this week. The Hilltoppers won't be as forgiving as the Vandals were and considering Indiana's tendency to start slow, it's likely to be too little too late for this group on Saturday. Additionally, according to covers.com, Western Kentucky is 4-0 ATS in their last four games in September and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games on FieldTurf. For the Hoosiers, they are 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a straight-up win and are 1-7 ARS in their last eight games following an ATS loss.

Prediction: Western Kentucky +6.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Last year's meeting between these two teams saw both score over thirty points and so far this season, there's no reason to think that there won't be plenty of offense in the rematch. Western Kentucky has scored 38 and 49 points respectively across their two games, while the Hoosiers have scored 23 points and 35 points. Given how the Hilltoppers have been able to move the ball and the pace at which this game will be played, fans will see plenty of points on the board for both sides. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Western Kentucky, the over is 5-1 in their last six September games and 9-2 in their last eleven games following an ATS win. For Indiana, the over is 4-0 in their last four non-conference games and 8-1 in their last nine home games against a team with a winning road record.

Prediction: Over 62
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Written By Eric Ploch , "Eric P."

Eric grew up surrounded by sports, whether it was spending the weekend catching games in person or on tv, or heading out to the fields to play whatever sport was in season. What started as a hobby, soon became a passion, as he became the sports editor of his high school newspaper, then wrote for his university newspaper during his undergrad years. After obtaining a degree in Sports Operations and Promotions, and spending 8 years deeply immersed in the sports world, Eric decided to take his love for analytics and predictions, and his experience, to online sports fans everywhere. James is now an integral part of our team here at StatSalt and has also been a very successful sports bettor over the years. Be sure and follow him daily.